Yesterday, I reached 163,984 words on my Codename: Velocity novel and I’m still about 20,000 words away from finishing the book. By all intent and purposes, I could easily eclipse 200,000 words without fail. Without breaking a sweat.
But I’m not rushing the process. I’m just going where the story takes me.
However, something caught my eye tonight. I ran across an article about a woman in New Zealand whom won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for her 832-page tome The Luminaries. According to the gushing review of the award, she’s the youngest ever recipient; while her book is the longest in the award’s 45-year history.
Now, here’s the thing: I’ve had countless people tell me over the years that I shouldn’t be writing giant novels.
But here we are, a woman out of New Zealand whom penned this respectable tome and she gets the whole thing published.
Nobody cries or complains about the size of her novel. But hey…! She just won an award and that makes everything hunky-dorey in New Zealand and elsewhere.
So why am I any different? Why are my books any different?
Why can’t I look up to this woman and say, “I’m just going to write just like you. Write a giant book along the same lines and get it published?”
In the publishing world’s backwards mentality, I can’t.
I shouldn’t. I’m not allowed.
And the question resonating in my mind is why? Why can’t I do what this woman did and get published? Or self-published?
What is it about established writers’ books that makes everything so peachy keen, but when it comes to writers like myself, it’s the end of the fucking world and a blatant sign of utter hypocrisy?
Did you think that one day I would pick up a pen and some paper and go, “Today, I’m going to write a book?”
I picked up every bleedin’ book there was and I read them. And not just read them, but delighted myself in the immense size of these novels.
The little kid in me was practically tickled pink when I picked up my first 400-page novel. I was literally going. “This is what I want to write someday: A 400-page novel.”
Then I saw a 500-600 page book a few years later and my aspirations went into orbit. Now I was dying to pen a 600-page novel. Then 800-pages.
Then the glorified and exceeedingly rare 1,000 pages!
Holy shit people! I wanted to be just like Tom Clancy and his Excecutive Orders novel! Now that was a book. It was the fucking Holy Grail of books. It wasn’t as big as Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, but it was a signatory piece de la resistance that I wanted to so emulate on a ton of levels.
This was a book worthy of worshipping. Not because of what it contained, but because of its immense size.
Wrap your minds around that number if you will. ONE THOUSAND PAGES.
If you think Harry Potter was big enough, then JK Rowling had nothing on Tom Clancy. The man could simply write that poor woman under a desk without breaking a sweat.
And it was many such books which inspired me to write giant novels. What was baffled me–and continues to do so–is how people who pay special attention to such books can be so critical of writers like myself who only seek to do one better than their previously published predecessors?
So what if it’s expensive to publish giant novels? Doesn’t mean we should stop writing them. Or aspire to write them. Just because the naysayers tell me it’s impossible, doesn’t mean jack-diddly to me.
Because one way or another, I will get these books of mine published. Technology doesn’t stand pat for nobody and neither does my imagination. If someone out there wrote a 1,500 page book that eclipsed War and Peace, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be someone like me typing furiously away trying to beat that number and come out on top.
But to sit there and tell me, “You can’t do this because nobody will read your book” is the lowest form of hypocrisy ever. It just shows how narrow-minded and shallow you are.
People are people. Information is just information–all contained and distributed in these little tiny blocks of data pushed out in three-second intervals over the internet 24/7.
Big or small, we absorb things like a fucking sponge. We train ourselves, we set goals, we aspire to greatness. It is our greatest strength as well as our greatest weakness.
But we can’t be held back.
So my drive to writing big novels isn’t to piss off the mainstream establishment or their little happy band of elfin followers. It’s to emulate and expand over what had come before us. Before me.
And the thing is, I’m not bothered by the thought. I consider it a great honor to surpass those authors who came before me and set the tone by showing the world, “this is how it is.”
If we can’t allow ourselves to grow, we have no business being on this Earth. Period. Pigeon-holing people into corners, into boxes and being told not to do this and that when others are doing the exact opposite doesn’t set a good example of sound leadership.
As I’ve said before, it’s hypocritical. But I suppose that’s why the mainstream gets off being such–because they can get away with it. They can drill into the public that writing giant novels is a bad investment and should be discouraged on all fronts.
But for someone like me, I don’t take no very well. I aim to please. And I’m aiming to write my next big novel. And then the next one after that. And so on and so forth–right down the line until I can no longer write.
Or hold a pen.
My imagination is boundless. Uncontained. Unrestrained. And those qualities which many of you should praise and revere–rather than ridicule and oppress with wanton cruelty.
But I’ve long suspected that some of you are scared and terrified of what might be. “How far can he go? What’s his absolute limit? Will it break the bank? Or the mainstream’s ability to publish?”
When so many of you talk about limitations, you easily think that such an ideal should be readily contained in a tiny box, out of sight, out of mind. Away from the general public where it can do no harm.
However…the harm of inflicting pain on a writer because of social contraints is perhaps the worst travesty ever visited on the human psyche.
By limiting me, you also limit yourselves in the process. And that’s where the real tragedy occurs. Because of you, my work will never be realized to its full potential. Because of you, future generations will never know the joys of a really good book.
Take away the imagination, the drive, and the ambition, and you take away everything there is needed to be a writer.
The establishment may hate me. Everyone else here reading this blog entry may hate me, but I don’t hate you. What disgusts me is the people’s ability to shackle other people’s dreams and hopes because they represent a step above what’s already been sanctioned by the masses as wholly plausible and normal.
What I deal with is not normal. I deal in the strange and the unknown. That’s what drives me to reach new heights in my works. While every writer out there is pigeon-holed in their comfy 80,000 word “booklets”, I’m blasting past everyone at the speed of light and enjoying every fucking second of it.
Because that is where I belong. That is where my books belong. Not in these little CIA cubicles of monochrome-covered walls, but out there were the sun is shining, the air is fresh, and the wind is blowing through my hair. Where my mind is uncaged, unfettered, and free as a bird.
All because of what I read as a child growing up. All those books I read as a teen. They are what gave me purpose and drive to overcome my own limitations and go where no one has gone before when I reached the pinnacle of adulthood.
Oh, eventually, I’ll hit my limits. But I’m not there yet.
I still have a ways to go. A long way to climb. But in the meantime, I have a ton of books to write and word count limits to smash. I may not do it with my current novel, but I can guarantee you that the next book or the next one following will.
And all of you will be left behind. Not because you can’t touch me, but because my imagination operates on a different level than yours. In my universe, I have no limits.
But here…I seem to be shackled by the ones that do. Fortunately–as time flies–those bonds and restraints are tossed aside as things progress at a phenomenal rate.
Technology is an uncaged animal. And yet…here I am: Still unpublished. Still striving to make my mark.
And the question is why? Why haven’t I joined the ranks of the published yet and added my voice to the striven masses?
Because I’m patient.
And patience has a long-standing habit of winning out towards the end.